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Safe Water

Elevated Fluoride Levels in Drinking Water

Small Drinking Water Systems

Boil Water Advisory: Guidelines for Dental Offices

This page was reviewed or revised on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 9:12 AM

PDF Guidelines for Dental Offices

If a Boil Water Advisory is issued, dental offices should follow these guidelines:

During a Boil Water Advisory, untreated tap water is unsafe for:

  • Drinking
  • Making ice
  • Dental procedures
  • Brushing teeth
  • Gargling
  • Rinsing dentures

1. Bring untreated tap water to a rolling boil for 1 minute to make safe for use, or use bottled water. Sterile saline and distilled water are also safe for dental and disinfection procedures.

2. If using on-site ice, make sure it is from a safe-water source.

Before Treatment

1. To avoid contaminating dental equipment, turn off the water supply to drinking water fountains and dental units such as triplex syringes, water dispensers and ultrasonic scalers.

2. If you cannot turn the water supply off to water-using units, cover or tape the taps or outlets on the equipment. Post notices advising ‘Do not drink or use the water to make ice or for dental hygiene without boiling first.’

3. Explain to patients the impact of the Advisory on dental care. Consider delaying elective, restorative and surgical procedures until the Advisory is lifted.

During Treatment

  • Run slow-speed turbines dry as per usual practice.
  • Avoid dry cutting when removing old amalgam restorations.
  • Run high-speed turbines dry, but use a hand syringe of boiled water or sterile saline to cool/rinse tooth or oral tissues.
  • Use plenty of safe water to irrigate the mouth, prevent overheating of the tooth pulp and reduce the amount of mercury vapour when cutting amalgam.
  • Continue regular maintenance as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Use distilled water to sterilize.
  • Scale by hand, using hand scalers. Never use ultrasonic or air polishers. They require water and cannot be modified for use during an Advisory.
  • Handle X-rays with gloves and discard the gloves after handling the film. X-ray processors are commonly connected to the untreated water supply. For manual X-ray processors, use distilled water.

After Treatment

  • Remind patients to use only boiled or bottled water for dental hygiene at home.

After Advisory is Lifted

  • Disconnect, clean and disinfect the X-ray processor. Contact the manufacturer for advice regarding disinfection measures.
  • Consult your facilities engineer, the equipment manufacturer, or refer to the manufacturer’s operating manual prior to turning on the water supply and re-starting dental units. Procedures may vary, but normally flushing the unit for at least 1 minute is a minimum recommendation. Some units may require a disinfection rinse.
  • Run cold water taps and drinking water fountains for 1 minute before using.
  • Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle. Drain and refill hot water heaters.

If you have any questions, contact the County of Lambton Lambton Public Health (519) 383-8331 or toll-free 1-800-667-1839.

Dated: May, 2006

Related information:

How to use Water During a Boil Water Advisory

Washing Dishes and Countertops

Mandatory Guidelines for Retail Food Services

Mandatory Guidelines for Public Pools, Spas, Wading Pools

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